At Easter, the faithful still flock to church…
Amidst the darkness of the sexual abuse scandal (which continued to escalate over the Triduum despite the Vatican moratorium on commenting during Holy Week) tens of thousands of pilgrims flocked to Rome to spend Easter in the Eternal City.
The pouring rain during Urbi et Orbi didn’t deter the faithful from coming to St Peter’s Square to receive the Papal blessing. According to the presenter on the Bayerische Rundfunk which was showing it live yesterday, there were far more pilgrims than expected in Rome this Easter.
Other places report a surge in people taking part in Triduum/Easter celebrations.
In Austria, the Stefansdom, the main Cathedral in Vienna saw a surge in Mass attendance ove Holy Week and Easter as well as did parishes in Vienna, despite a general decline in Mass attendance and growing numbers of active defections from the Church.
Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that several London churches also saw larger numbers of faithful come for Holy Week celebrations and Easter than have in past years.
According to one steward at the Cathedral — NB this still needs to be substantiated but owing to the bank holiday I couldn’t get in touch with anyone — there were so many people at Westminster Cathedral that Cathedral security needed extra help to marshall them all. At one point, apparently, the piazza was overflowing and people were queuing all the way down to Victoria street to take part in the different Easter services.
The London Oratory has also reported more people at the Good Friday liturgy, the Easter Vigil and Masses on Easter Sunday than they normally see there. A full church at the Vigil, standing room only at the High Mass on Easter Sunday and the other Masses packed as well — it seems they also had a rise in Confessions in Holy Week, with a lot of people coming to receive the Sacrament after years of absence from the confessional.
Word from the pew was that there were more people at the Jesuit Church at Farm Street for the main Easter Mass than usual.
I was rather surprised to hear this as I expected there to be far fewer people in the pews as a result of all the terrible things that have been emerging and that have been said, so perhaps it is a hopeful sign.
As the American Catholic, Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week about the three groups of victims of the clerical sex abuse scandals…
And the third group is the Catholics in the pews—the heroic Catholics of America and now Europe, the hardy souls who in spite of what has been done to their church are still there, still making parish life possible, who hold high the flag, their faith unshaken. No one thanks those Catholics, sees their heroism, respects their patience and fidelity. The world thinks they’re stupid. They are not stupid, and with their prayers they keep the world going, and the old church too.
Did you have more people at Easter liturgies than normal? What did you experience?